Thursday, July 20, 2017

We Took a Bite of the Apple.

Those of us who are fortunate enough to travel know that there is always some kind of time warp upon re-entry to our homes. I spent a week with my granddaughter and husband on a special 10th birthday celebration in New York City.  We had planned this a year in advance and participated in a workshop that introduced us to Broadway and the surrounding area.  This was like visiting another planet and we were a little dazed upon re-entry to the rural country.

I have been to New York City a few times before, but I think this was finally the time that solidified for me the layout of Mid-Town south to Washington Square Park.  The workshop had us moving throughout the theater district as well as the other tourist areas.  We walked many blocks some days but also took the subway sometimes and relied on cabs at the end of the week. 

I will not fill this post with the 800+ photos that I took.   But it was fun!

Taken from the top of the Empire State Building.
It was an active time and it was invigorating and exhausting to be on a daily schedule again in our lives.  Grandchildren and Grandparents were lectured and taught by dancers and actors on Broadway.  There were 13 children, only two of them boys, between the ages of 9 and 12.


For most, it was a first time trip to the Big Apple.



We went behind the stage of the Art Deco New Amsterdam Theater which was currently playing Alladin.  The history of this theater was amazing in that it was almost completely torn down before being saved.  Those decorative balconies in the top photo had been cut away when it was a movie house and all the beautiful decorations were painted black.  It was abandoned for a long time and then purchased without the buyers seeing the inside which had become a place for rats, mice, mold, etc.  It is a truly beautifully restored landmark.  We saw Alladin at this theater and Wicked at another theater as well as the show Blue Man Group.  The actor who has played Jafar (for over 20 years both as a voice for the animated version and acting on stage) was interviewed during the workshop.


The professional dancers also got us up on our feet to practice using space with our bodies and to practice trading leads with our grandchild.



The children rehearsed singing and dancing to one of the songs from Aladdin and I am waiting for the video to share with Mom and Dad.  

We used a few days of free time to do traditional tourist stuff.




There, only 0.012% of my photos.  Pretty good, huh?

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Keeping a Card Up Your Sleeve On a Rainy Day

Since I have led a sheltered life (meaning the last time I played poker I was 12 and played with my Dad), I have not a clue about the rules or etiquette or strategy for Poker.  Today my husband was playing five card stud (?) with his 12-year-old grandson.  I was asked about a Full House, and I said that was what we had on the 4th of July.


They both threw a sofa pillow at me.  When we got to talking about a Royal Flush, I assumed that had something to do with Princess Diana, and they told me to leave the room.  Just as well, because they were playing for quarters and I don't have any since the quarters you see in the photo below are what I took out of the jar in the laundry room where I put the loose change that I collect from the dryer and which I donated to the two of them.  I then took the same amount off of hubby's dresser and they were happy.



Anyway, they had a good time learning math and strategy on such a pummeling rainy day.  (We got 2.75 inches in 12 hours, although as I write this the sun is now out.)


Grandson's first hand was not good and not bad.  They seemed to be pretty even back and forth during the afternoon of card playing.  It was fun listening to them jibe and bluster each other as they got bolder and then more discouraged.

At least we got him away from videos on the I-phone!

Monday, July 03, 2017

Peace and Pause, You Will Not Find That Here.



My calendar is crowded until the end of July. Grandchildren coming to visit for a few days, then taking one child to a "camp" up in NYC, and then returning with her for three days, and then dropping her off midweek, and then finishing the month off with a doctor's appointment, a dentist appointment, the fireplace cleaning service and two trips to the Children's Garden to work and harvest. I know that my readers do not care, nor should you care.  Just making an excuse as to why my posts may be little more than outlines and not well-thought-out or meaningful; prior posts were, weren't they?  

I would like to write more deeply about my thoughts/experiences at this time in my life...but right now I am extremely busy living it.  I am thankful for the busyness, because when my days get empty, as all of our days do, I wonder about my life and its meaning and how fast it is moving.  Now I have no time for that.

Hoping I can squeeze in some time to read from my blog list as many of you give me peace and pause.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Another Post on People

Life is most interesting because of the people we meet, is it not?  People that are here are more compelling than the people created from my mind.  The real people are far more interesting than anything a mediocre writer can put on the page.  Now a good writer can create fascinating characters out of whole cloth, that is a different story.


I went to a “Lavender Festival” the other weekend.  It was a small and rural event and I actually knew several people there.  That is unusual because I rarely run into someone at the mall or the drugstore or the library...well, except for the one librarian that I know, but she is retiring and won’t be there much longer.

The overflow parking was in a hot and dry field behind the event.  You had to walk through scratchy grass to get to the booths.  The woman who helped with the parking wore dark baggy pants and a white man's shirt.  Two Boy Scouts in neat uniforms, who also were supposed to help, hid in the shade at the end of the drive looking intimidated.  Maybe they were afraid of her.  She was 50 or 60 years with salt and pepper hair covered by a large canvas hat that she had plopped on her head to protect from the intense June sun.  She weighed more than she should have and widened her stance to keep balance on the uneven ground.  When we pulled up beside her she thrust two programs into my face and was firm in telling us where we needed to park.  We passed her again as we walked to the event and I smiled, a little.  She was missing a tooth (or two) and had a protruding mole the size of a small pea on the end of one nostril.  Her face was covered in freckles and haggard.  She was already beginning to sweat under the hot sun even though she had hours ahead.  She pointed in the direction we needed to go.  I smiled and thanked her for her help.  She shared how nasty some folks could be when she  told them where to park.  I knew her life was hard and made sure she got the kindest and nicest look I could muster.  Hubby also chimed in with friendly comments as he is Mr. Social.  As we went on to the booths I wondered what her life was like, and what caused her to take on this task.  Was it her daughter that was running the festival?

Ahead in the small tents, there were booths of clothes and jewelry, nothing that rang my bells. Local artisans trying to push their products.  There was a booth of lavender beer and another of lavender wine.  I tried neither in the hot sun.  There were lavender soaps and creams and had I been in need I might have purchased something.  Instead I bought live herb plants because parts of my herb bed were bare.


I ran into a gardening friend, Ibu (names changed to protect  myself), who is a strong woman my age, who has traveled the world with a husband formerly from the state department.  They continue travels to esoteric places like shell conventions in France!  She is always firm in her attitude.  She speaks enough French to get by, but her history includes growing up in Poland until she was six.  She still speaks good Polish and told a story about some people she met in France who claimed they were Polish.  “Hmph!   They kept calling a food they liked “porogue”.  I know how to say pirogue!"  Then she explained that she and her husband did not buy their shells from tourist places but had collected many when  they were diving many years ago.  “Buying shells is not appropriate.”  She has a strong and attractive face with full lips, a strong jawline, and light brown hair that may have been dyed and pulled back casually by a plastic clip.  She always looks well put together without being dressed up.  Ibu went on to tell us a story about an acquaintance they knew in Asia who was always trying to collect the best shells and 'one-upping' everyone while not even knowing about shells.  She laughed as she explained that the couple had purchased a large and rare turban shell which they placed in a prominent place in their patio so they could brag about getting it only to find the green color was not natural and washed away in the rain.  This seemed to give Ibu some satisfaction.

I met my final interesting person of the day that afternoon while shopping for groceries.  He is actually someone I have seen fairly often.  He works as a checkout clerk and  has been in my grocery store for the last ten years.  He looks close to thirty in age.  I will call him Clark.  Clark is somewhat overweight, has dark, close-cropped hair, and has a small  mustache to break the plump circle of his round face.  He wears dark rimmed Clark Kent glasses.  We often have all kinds of conversations while he prices my groceries.  He is someone who talks to everyone, even if you are old enough to be his grandmother.  I have learned things about him over time, such as that he likes computers, he likes computer games, he has firm convictions about things certainly food, he seems to have come from  a loving family, and he sometimes likes to argue for entertainment with me.  This day we were talking about personal appearances.  I am not sure what took us down that path (perhaps a headline on one of the tabloids), but I had gotten on the topic that women were admired for their delicate and diminutive beauty more than their strength of character and ideas.  I pointed out several women in the world who did not fit this mold, but had changed the world for the better with their non-diminutive attitudes.  He agreed and said that he did not like delicate or frail females, but liked women who were strong, although he did say physical appearance was about 30% important as well for attraction.  He explained he had always been a big kid starting when he was eleven and pretty much was the size then that he is now.  While he took on the role of protector for his younger brothers and sisters, he did not date much because he was so much bigger than most in his school.  We somehow got on the topic of his not ever finding a gal that he really was attracted to although he was still looking.  I looked at him and do not know why I responded as I did but very quietly I said, "Maybe you like guys instead?"  He looked right back at me and said,"Actually, I am bisexual.  If I see a gal that looks good I notice.  If I see a guy, it is the same."  I smiled and wondered how we ever got this close standing across the check-out counter.

People are fascinating to me.



Monday, June 26, 2017

Gifting


I am thinking that there are several types of people when it comes to gifting for birthdays.

1. Those who do not want anyone to make a fuss and who only want time (at any time during the year) with those they love. (This is me.)
2. Those for who have everything and pretty much accept they will not get anything they need but remain gracious anyway.
3. Those who are clear about what they would like for their birthday. (Some are kind enough to give a range of items to cover financial boundaries.)
4. Those who want the same thing every year. (My hubby wants either an outdoors hike or a fishing trip.)
5. Those who would just like you to "fuhgeddaboutit."
6. Those who make an evaluation on what you gave them either in cost, time spent, or accurate targeting and therefore you have to give the gifting some thought.

My son-in-law is number 6, not in a cruel or mean and judgemental way. But if you hit the target he is effusive and if you do not he is mildly polite. He is also a blend with number 2 in that he can afford almost ANYTHING he wants and usually goes out and buys it the minute he tells you he wants it. In other words, he is hard to gift.

He and I have the love of theater and cinema in common, and this year the Smithsonian had a lecture (2 weeks before his birthday) with Ann Hornaday, the cinema critic for the Washington Post.  He was happy and loved the fact that I did not tell him what it was, and he loved the puzzle of spending an hour on his phone trying to find "happenings" in D.C. on that night while he was waiting for us to join him for dinner downtown.  (The night before he and my daughter attended the Bono concert in Virginia, so you can see the standards I was up against.)


He did not find the "event" via phone search because the Smithsonian lectures are not really geared to the Millenial demographic, so I told him what we were going to do at dinner.

The lecture was fun and she name-dropped everywhere, let us in on behind the scenes gossip and promoted her book which my son-in-law bought.

The additional cool part was that venue was in the Navy Memorial building.  I did not know it existed, had never been there, and now would like to return and explore the area another time.



This lecture ended while the night was still young, 


so we went out for $12.00 a plate desserts!




As you can see, the plates are MUCH larger than the desserts.  Not sure what the reasoning behind that was, but this town has people who make lots of money!

Hit a homerun this year.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Post Father's Day

Hubby, on the right a month after his knee surgery.
My husband's father's day was filled with activities and love and fun even though we did not leave the neighborhood and the heat was unbearable. We all get along these days, although our politics brought some tension in the past.  Thanks to Trump we are all on the same side.

I was not close to my father although I loved him very much.  I am sure that makes you raise one eyebrow.  My Dad was a quiet and reclusive man and when he lost his hearing in later years, that meant he was frustrated and talked to me even less.  So there is a small shadow hanging over Father's Day when I think of my Dad and my guilt.

My son has wanted for almost two years to become a father and it does not look like that is happening after spending money and going to the doctor.  They do not talk about it and there was some easing in that yesterday when they actually dropped a phrase or two about probably not having kids.  The day was packed with folks, so I did not poke and pry at that tender bit of news. I imagine this was a tough day for them, even though they work at spending time with my daughter's children.

My husband has a friend who was working hard at getting his life back together and starting a new tourist venture in the South Pacific.  He had nine children.  He was 44 and passed away last week from a sudden and totally unexpected heart attack.  That family is working hard at getting through Father's Day, I am confident.

I am sure that there are families that have perfect relationships and that had a love-filled holiday where everyone had lots of homemade food and were thankful when they sat down to eat, or shared a hole in one with their dad, or hiked a cool mountain trail with their dad, or even just shared a beer.  But there are lots of folks for whom this day is a bit of a trial and I raise a glass of wine to them.







Thursday, June 15, 2017

Three Questions


When I peruse the Internet, it is to me very much like taking a tour around the world and getting to meet some of the smartest people on the planet, and it makes me count my blessings. As much as the Internet is criticized for being invasive, a time waster, a tool that keeps us from being face to face with others, like any new tool/toy/distraction/technology there are both good sides and bad sides to its existence and we are the deciders for how we use it.

As a child growing up I remember reading how television reduced families from talking to each other and introduced outside influences that interfered with parental ideals. Television was going to dissolve family life as we knew it--- the same television that let us see John Glenn on the moon, and saved me in grad school with Laugh In, and these days bringing many exotic and brave and energetic people into my home as my world grows smaller with age.   There were conservative and religious families in my small town that carefully limited their family viewing time and devoted the rest of their evenings to reading the Bible, singing songs, or playing board games. My parents were not religious and I guess they did not fear we would be changed by the outside world anymore through television than we would through growing up and facing those life changing questions on our own.  The TV was on perhaps more than off in the evenings (all of us worked hard in the summer at jobs to save for college), but my two brothers and my two sisters  (one who passed from cancer many years ago) and I grew up to be contributing members of society, with stable marriages honed by acceptance and compromise, and while sometimes divided by politics, still keeping a good sense of humor most of the time.  The mistakes we made in life were from the culture of our communities as much as the culture of television.

I feel the same about the Internet in that you can dwell on the angry, vitriolic, scary, amazing news or you can go to the slow and in-depth studies on the issues and the sharing of ideas and memories of amazing writers/journalists and begin to understand why you may feel the way you do and ways you can change or adapt to those ideas.


I have been reading articles from a site named "The World Economic Forum" and recently read an article written by Paolo Gallo, Chief Human Resources Officer, Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum, Geneva.  He wrote an article about his father teaching him about growing up and suggested three questions to ask yourself at the end of the day to help you live a purposeful life.  This works while you are young and also if you think have just a few short years in the future.  It works for me.  These questions are:

1.  Have you learned something new?
2.  Are you helping others?
3.  Do you love what you are doing?

The full article is here.